Alan Arkin

The Rocketeer

Year: 1991
Directed By: Joe Johnson
Written By: Dave Stevens (original character) Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, and William Dear (story and screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

In 1991 I was seven years old and already a huge fan of this type of film and character. Thanks to the likes of He-Man, Flash Gordon, Batman, and of course the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I was already a veteran of films about heroes. They were my favorite and along came this lovable Disney movie about a guy with a really cool looking costume flying around with a jetpack. On top of that he was going head to head with Nazis a la Indiana Jones style. I remember seeing this movie in the theater multiple times going to work with my dad at that young age and I absolutely loved it.

For a time I even demanded my mother fix my hair just like Cliff Seacord with that part in the middle although my hair would never look right. I also really wanted one of those bitchin red leather jackets that button up all the way across the front, though I’d never be able to rock that either. Even today, if I were able to get my hands on a replica of the Rocketeer’s helmet it would be displayed in a prime place among all my cool fan boy crap. The funny thing is that Cliff Seacord, played by Billy Campbell, was the kind of character only a seven year old could love. I hold him in nostalgic honor now as “that cool guy that was the Rocketeer,” but in all honesty a better actor could have made a more memorable movie.

Somehow Campbell managed to beat out several actors such as Emilio Estevez, Matthew Modine, Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, and Kurt Russell. All of whom where arguably at the high points of their respective careers. If Billy Campbell ever went on to do anything else of significance I am unfamiliar with it. He had the benefit of a great supporting cast to make him look better though. Alan Arkin is such a talented actor and he brings something great to every thing he is a part of. Timothy Dalton makes for a great villain as the undercover Nazi with the terrifying henchman at his disposal. Paul Sorvino is in his natural role as a cool mobster who will break the law but isn’t working for any damn Nazi. Jennifer Connelly is also noteworthy as the pretty damsel in distress.

I remember back in 2010 being surprised to see that Joe Johnson was going to be the guy behind camera on the highly anticipated Captain America: The First Avenger. When the name was first reported I had to look him up. While I saw a few notable films, The Rocketeer was the one that jumped out at me and a ton of memories about this movie came flooding back to me. It was then that I decided to add this movie to the collection and I don’t think it was a mistake.

This movie holds special value to me because for a while it was my favorite during a tough time in childhood. Setting that aside I still think this is a really cool movie. Disney has always been able to make a fun and exciting movie that was appropriate for all ages. This movie has cool bad guys, mobsters, airplanes, sword fights, Nazis, the legend of aviation Howard Hughes, and Hollywood all rolled into one. It’s a movie that this day in age no one remembers and few have even heard of it. That doesn’t change anything about the film because I’ll stand by this one. This movie is worth your time and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and do.

NEXT MOVIE: Role Models (2008)

 

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Little Miss Sunshine

Year: 2006
Directed By: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Written By: Michael Arndt

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie I haven’t looked forward to reaching in the collection.  It’s Amber’s movie, and I went along with it because I liked it well enough to concede to it having a place on our movie rack.  It’s been years since I have seen the movie and what’s funny is that as soon as we started the movie I found myself immediately sucked in.  That’s how it usually tends to be as we make this journey through the collection and that’s the point really.  We are making this journey through the DVD rack specifically to reconnect with these movies and remind ourselves of why we bought them in the first place.  This is a perfect example because while I have dreaded watching it, I immediately found myself enthralled and couldn’t look away.

I had started a second paragraph of this review discussing my reluctance to watch the movie on the pretense that it is just too depressing and bleak.  After re-watching the entire film I have gone back and deleted the paragraph because I couldn’t be more wrong.  This movie isn’t depressing, and in fact it is quite the contrary.  It’s uplifting and it’s a beautiful thing to see this family come together to overcome adversity.  Olive is the glue that holds them all together and it’s the love and respect they have for her that motivates them to overcome their own personal issues.  They are all depressed people faced with issues that are out of their hands but try to maintain hope despite that.  Whether they are broken-hearted and suicidal, past their prime and ready for the end, angry at the world and determined toward a dream that ultimately can’t be achieved, broke and unable to achieve the success desired, or just the mother that does whatever she can to hold them together.  They all have serious problems laid before them and it is the little sweet and innocent Olive that forces them all together and makes them a real family again.

The strength of this movie is in the story and in the cast.  At the center of that cast was the 10-year old Abigail Breslin who played her part flawlessly.  Dressed in a fat suit she took a lot of weight on her young shoulders and carried the film to a level it might not have reached with another young actress.  That scream of excitement when she gets the news from the Little Miss Sunshine pageant gets me every time. It’s the shrill excitement and reaction that can only come from a girl her age and she did a great job with it.  Another scene that always gets me in this movie is when she is the only one capable of consoling her half brother who has just realized all his dreams are out of reach.  She doesn’t even have to say anything to him; she just does the sweetest thing in the world and simply hugs him.  Of course there is also her dance at the end which comes out of nowhere and really caps off the movie in an awesome way.  Breslin has continued to work and is developing into a very good actress.  I look forward to what she has to offer in the future and will always remember this role fondly as the one who made her a player in the making.

The best role in this movie aside from Olive is the one turned in by Alan Arkin.  In fact he was awarded the Academy Award for the part in 07 for Best Supporting Actor.  Arkin is a fantastic actor who always does his job so effortlessly in so many films.  He delivered one of my favorite lines ever in this movie when talking about drug use.  He tells Dwayne that it’s stupid to do drugs when you are young but stupid not to do them at his age.  I think he has a hell of a point there and I really liked that mindset of his character. He is a crude and uncouth man but is still a great grandfather to Olive.  He does use drugs but he is just trying to get the most out of life before it is over and I think that’s pretty cool.

I’m not really a fan of Steve Carrell’s career in film; although I think he was great on TV. In most of the movies he makes he is just altogether too stupid or silly for me, but occasionally he shows us that he is better than that.  This is a film where he did just that and I thought he gave an excellent performance. I love the scene when they finally arrive late to the pageant and he runs ahead of everyone in an effort to get Olive signed up in time.  Here he is this man who is so disheartened and depressed he tried to take his own life and he is forced into this situation that oddly enough gives him something to live for.  Something he cares so much about he does everything within his power to make it happen, running all that way without stopping to get Olive’s name in before registration closed.

I really hate to do this a second time but……“Holy shit there is Dean Norris!” I am again baffled to see him when I never knew him before. Of course he is again playing a cop, go figure.  It seems to be his go-to thing but none of that matters at all anymore.  At this point I have only seen the first of the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad and all I can say is that Hank was pretty damn awesome in that episode. In this movie he is only on screen for a matter of minutes but still manages to be really funny.  I love hen he finds the porno mags and is completely distracted from the body in the trunk.  He flips through them with so much excitement until getting to the homosexual issue and doing a complete 180.

Greg Kinnear plays such a loathsome character in this movie that it made me start to dislike him as an actor.  As the dad he is doing the best he can but he is such a misguided and pretentious man.  The kind of guy that doesn’t have a problem throwing his own douche bag opinion on the table no matter what the issue.  The kind of man who has an unreasonable sense of self worth and the overbearing arrogance that goes with such. Despite his redeeming efforts later in the film I still can’t get on board with a guy who tells his daughter ice cream will make her fat in front of everyone. Later in the movie he really comes alive to make his daughter’s dream come true and that is really awesome.  It took a lot of balls to steal his father’s body out of the hospital, and then again to get up on stage and join his daughter’s dance.

One of my favorite things about this movie is how they have to push their car to get it started after it breaks down on the road.  In order to move forward they must work together as a family pushing it; I think the symbolism there is really clever. I like that the movie ends with one final scene of them doing this together to make the trip back home.  There is no telling what lies before them on the road but they are heading into it together, stronger as a family than they ever have been before.

I can’t even say enough about how surprised I am now and how foolish I feel to have dreaded watching this movie.  I don’t know what made me remember it so poorly but I have thoroughly enjoyed watching it again and will probably not wait as long before seeing it next time.  This is a wonderful movie and it stole the hearts of many of us in 2006.  If you haven’t seen it then you have been missing out.  This is a great movie with incredible performances that are worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Me, I bought this movie for Ryan. He was dreading this movie and I kept saying you must be remembering it wrong, this movie is amazing. It hits to every true part of the family paradigm. He, of course, got sucked in again. This movie is one of my favorites. It speaks volumes on the true nature of people. All families are really effed up in their own ways, but ultimately in the end, all you have is each other. Nobody loves you like your family loves you. They accept every messed up flaw. That is what this movie excelled at showing. It is more than worth your time.

littlemisssunshine

This is one of my favorite posters of all time. I have really been looking forward to it. It is like a breath of fresh air. It looks like it was created in Illustrator and not Photoshop for once. Not that Photoshop sucks or anything, but there are just way too many filters that are relied upon when it comes to movie poster designers. In any case, this poster is the epitome of what negative space importance is. It’s really ok to leave some breathing room around a big space like this. It almost leaves you more intrigued to read the rest of the poster. Anyway. I love this poster and this movie.

NEXT MOVIE: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

Edward Scissorhands

Year: 1990
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is such an awesome movie.  When it came out it was a new and interesting fairy tale made in true Tim Burton fashion.  Like many other Burton movies this one is exceptional because there really is no other like it.  This movie is interesting, imaginative, and incredible. With this strange fantasy story Tim Burton manages to give us an insight into how he sees the world and tell us something about ourselves all in one stroke.  This film is about finding out who you are, it’s about love and fear; it’s part Beauty and the Beast, part Frankenstein, and all Tim Burton.

Tim Burton really is one of a kind.  He has such a vision when it comes to blending colors on screen and he has a style that is all his own.  I have never cared much for what I think of as “the creepy Tim Burton crap” but it is part of who he is and it is original.  His originality is what makes him such a great filmmaker and this is one of the best showcases for his talent.  My favorite of his films has got to be Beetle Juicebut this is a really really close second. Johnny Depp is great as the title character and if I’m not mistaken he has referred to this as one of his favorite roles.  He portrays such an innocent being that is victimized by the world and ultimately misunderstood. Winona Ryder is young and beautiful.  Dianne Wiest is honest and good spirited.  However, after Johnny Depp I think the best performance has to go to Alan Arkin.  He plays the father of the Boggs so deftly and naturally that it makes you believe this is a real family and a real story.  I have read that the death of Jim at the end of the film was Tim Burton’s revenge on the jocks who picked on him in high school but I think that revenge came in casting Anthony Michael Hall as the jock instead.  Hall had played dorks and nerds for a long time but was trying to change his image with this role. Who was he kidding though, right?  He did a horrible job and his career continued on a downward spiral because of it.  This was the last film that Vincent Price appeared in and that is another thing that makes it special.  It is sad that the last thing he did on screen was dying though.

Edward is a creature of isolation, in this film we see him adapt and attempt to live a normal life.  Edward does not understand what he is dealing with in society though and he is vulnerable because of his ignorance. The world is cruel, and it isn’t long before the world is trying to exploit Edward in a variety of ways.  When he doesn’t understand what is going on he responds in ways that society doesn’t understand. He isn’t a person, he is the unfinished product of the inventor and it isn’t his fault that he doesn’t understand the world.  He tries to do what he thinks is right but is unequipped and unaware of how to deal with the manipulation and the cruelty of others.  Everywhere he goes people continually fill him with hope by telling him that they know a doctor who can help him but the only people who do help him are the Boggs, and ultimately they fail to understand him as well.  The only one who really knew him was the one he fell for, and she couldn’t help him either. What makes Edward such a great character is that he is so diverse and innocent.  He is someone we can all learn from because in his story we can see aspects of ourselves and our nature.

I have written before about Danny Elfman as a composer, we have reviewed several movies now that he scored. I do like Danny Elfman but in this journey through our movies I have found myself losing respect for him.  He has such a specific sound that I don’t even have to see the credits to know he was involved in a movie now.  While I think he has put together some great musical scores for films I am noticing more and more that all his scores sound the same.  Tim Burton uses him frequently and I think they work really well together.  Elfman’s gloomy sound is perfect for Tim Burton’s purposes.  If you want to know what I am talking about though see Beetle Juice, Darkman, Batman, or Batman Returns

This is a wonderful movie that many love.  It isn’t one you need me to tell you to see but I am always happy to recommend it during a rare time that I find someone who hasn’t seen it.  Great cast, great story, and a great filmmaker at his best.  This movie will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you feel on a deeper level.  It is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love, love this movie. This was the first film of it’s kind that I had ever seen. I didn’t even know that movies like this existed or could exist. It is a beautifully made movie, with and incredible plot. I love the housing units, the costumes, the hairdos. Everything was thought about and thought about until it was perfect.

I thoroughly enjoy this movie and could watch it over and over. If you haven’t seen it, it is more than worth it to watch it.

NEXT MOVIE: Enemy of the State (1998)